December 31, 2013 | Vol. 74 No. 25

South Side native publishes his ninth book on Christianity

South Side native Daniel Helminiak has published another book, making nine in total, plus two in second editions.

South Side author Daniel Helminiak has published nine books on Christianity

The latest is The Transcended Christian: What Do You Do When You Outgrow Your Religion? He says it's about "religion outside the box. It's about staying deeply rooted in Jesus while branching out to a world of diversity. It's about growing beyond childhood religion when life throws curves you never expected."

The book is the most popularly written of Mr. Helminiak's books. It comes from sermons he preached as chaplain to Dignity, the lay Catholic support network for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people and their families and friends. That ministry forced him to dig deeply into Christian tradition and find lessons for so many people today who feel like religious outcasts.

In one way, Mr. Helminiak's concern is to preserve religion, but spirituality is his true focus. He suggests how people can grow beyond their sectarian religions and, hand in hand with all the world, support a "generic," a core spiritual vision.

Concerned for the future of our world and the upcoming generation who will lead it, he first released this book in electronic format via Kindle. Now also in paperback, it is available at amazon.com.

With anecdotes from his own life and stories from others, Mr. Helminiak shares the spiritual wisdom he gained over his 70 years. In simpler times, he graduated from St. Josaphat grade school and St. Michael high school on South Side.

He finished college at St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe and his studies in Rome, where he was ordained a Catholic priest. For four years he served as associate pastor at SS. Simon and Jude Church in Scott Township and then moved into an educational ministry.

He earned a PhD in theology at Boston College. There he was teaching assistant to Professor Bernard Lonergan, SJ (1908-1988), whom Newsweek magazine styled the Thomas Aquinas of the 20th century. Then for four years Mr. Helminiak taught graduate theology to seminary students at Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio-courses on Jesus, God, Trinity, and Christian spirituality.

Getting a last piece of his long education in place, Mr. Helminiak completed a second PhD, this time in psychology, at the University of Texas at Austin. The topic of his research was adult spiritual development. He is now professor in the humanistic and transpersonal Department of Psychology at the University of West Georgia near Atlanta, where he lives.

The Transcended Christian contains 19 essays on all facets of Christianity-such as spiritual growth, wisdom beyond mere words, the "will of God," the adult meaning of Christmas, the role of the Holy Spirit, the challenge of Jesus' resurrection, the changing role of women, the pope, modern science, and other world religions.

A recurrent theme will likely speak to many but offend others. Mr. Helminiak argues the bottom line of all religion is simply to be a good person-honest, loving, just, forgiving; and God will take care of the rest. He even downplays the core doctrines of Christianity.

Rather than unite our world, for example, publicly insisting on the divinity of Jesus helps divide it. Even honest and good-willed atheists might be doing "Jesus' work" more than self-proclaimed "Christians."

Mr. Helminiak is best known-perhaps notorious-for his international best-seller, translated into six languages, What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality (1994, 2000). His other popular books are Spirituality for our Global Community (2008), Sex and the Sacred (2006), and Meditation without Myth (2005).

University presses published his other books, and another is currently under review: "God" in the Brain. Applying Lonergan's analyses of human consciousness, this highly technical book integrates neuroscience, psychology, spiritualogy, and theology.

Mr. Helminiak regularly visits Pittsburgh for the winter holidays and summer break. His work includes much travel-Honolulu for a conference in August and Mexico City in November. Still, he says, his heart is in Pittsburgh. When visiting, he stays with his brother, Al, who maintains the family home on the South Side Slopes. His sister, Cecelia McHirella, and her children live in the South Hills.

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